Stay Open-Minded - Things Aren't What They Seem

If you stay open-minded and exercise patience and curiosity, you'll be able to correct any assumptions you may have as soon as possible. As you can see, things aren't always what they seem.
Stay Open-Minded - Things Aren't What They Seem
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 28 July, 2022

You must stay open-minded because things aren’t always what they seem. People, situations, and certain events often end up being very different from the way you perceive them. It comes to show you that your judgments are neither always correct nor your assumptions well-adjusted. However, the mind has the habit of rushing into things.

Assuming these “perceptual miscalculations” is an act of responsibility. However, note that not all responsibility is yours; at least not consciously. This is because the brain is the real culprit of these out-of-tune interpretations. It’s the one who makes decisions on autopilot and who chooses to get carried away by prejudice rather than by delicate reflection.

Stay open-minded because things aren’t always what they seem

Something that people who dedicate their lives to mental health know very well that it’s essential to know how to turn off the switch of judgment and the trap of prejudice. If you want to be agents of change for others and help them grow and heal, it’s essential to avoid hasty labels. To turn on the light when it comes to your understanding.

Only the open-minded are capable of being authentic and connecting with empathy. All to be able to accompany and facilitate the advancement that a given person may need. This is because, in the end, the experience ends up showing that not everything is always what it seems. At least not at first. Also, don’t believe everything you hear or think.

This undoubtedly plunges you into a state of continuous uncertainty where you’re left with only one option: to let go and allow yourself to discover one another. In fact, that’s the secret of life. It’s about daring to open and enter doors in order to discover what lies inside them. About assuming that there are many realities and perspectives.

A lineup of masks - things aren't always what they seem

Stay open-minded

There are times in which what one perceives has nothing to do with true reality. How can this be? Are your senses deceiving you? Not at all. What happens is that everything you perceive and everything that’s outside your mind goes through the filter of your brain. This organ interprets everything you see and experience. It channels every event, person, and circumstance through the veil of your experience, personality, and unique nuances.

Things aren’t always what they seem and it’s surprising to discover that they’re not. It’s happened to everyone. For example, when you have to deal with bullying, it’s very easy to perceive who’s the victim and who’s the aggressor. However, your perception should go beyond this. This is because, sometimes, the aggressor is also a victim of their social and family context, of that microworld where violence is the only type of language.

What you perceive may in fact not always the true reality but perception is the lens you use to look at the world almost every day. The crystal of which it’s made, far from being sharp and transparent, has the hue of your previous experiences, emotions, prejudices, interests, and cognitive distortions.

Things aren’t always what they seem because the mind is a factory of assumptions

The human mind contains many assumptions, irrational schemes, preconceived ideas, and prejudices of which you’re not aware. If you wonder who put them there, the answer is very simple: you did.

Daniel Kahneman, the well-known psychologist who received the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2002, reminds the world through his books and works that people are made of hundreds of cognitive biases. In other words, through subjective (and often erroneous) ways of interpreting reality that completely deviate from objective reality.

Hence, sooner or later, you may realize that certain things aren’t as they seem, at least at first. And they’re not because you’re using completely misaligned biases.

A man's head surrounded by smoke - things aren't always what they seem

A brain that wants to save time and fills in what it doesn’t understand with prejudice

The brain often works on autopilot while making use of cognitive blind spots. These are situations in which, far from empathizing with other people’s perspectives, from limiting yourself to merely being there while seeing and listening calmly and closely to whoever is before you, you instead choose to limit yourself, once again, to judging hastily.

You don’t give time or space, nor do you give the other something even more precious: your understanding. Perhaps you get stuck once again in that cognitive blind spot where you’re not aware of the biases, unfounded ideas, and misinterpretations. Sometimes, it takes days or weeks for you to realize that certain things aren’t always what they seem.

Forbidden to anticipate, allowed to stay open-minded

Every time you talk to someone or face a new or difficult situation, try to do a simple visualization exercise. One must capture two very specific images in the mind. In the first, you’ll be turning off a switch (prejudice or thoughts anticipating meaningless interpretations).

The second image is simple: envision yourself opening a window. That great window is your mind. Bright, immense, and connected to all the wonders that surround it. That feeling should inject in you a good dose of curiosity, perspective, and positive spirit.

This is how you can be much more receptive to others and understand them with all of their nuances, extinguishing your tendency to label them and make assumptions. This mental focus requires effort and commitment. Also, it involves freeing yourself from carrying the extra weight of judgments that don’t help you understand others.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.